The two St. Petersburg public safety unions, The St. Petersburg Association of Fire Fighters 747 and the Sun Coast Police Benevolent Association quickly jumped in and endorsed incumbent Bill Foster in this year's Mayors' race.
In the past these endorsements have actually meant something but this year may be different.
An interesting facet of St. Petersburg budgeting, and true for many cities, is the incumbent mayor prepares the budget for the year following his/her current term.
What that means is no matter who is elected, they end up with their first year budget developed by the previous Mayor. There are some opportunities to fine tune the budget but major changes that might increase the budget are just about impossible.
So the Fire Fighters Union having been sent a serious message from the current administration over the last couple of years in the form of budget cuts, (They did not support Foster in his election bid for Mayor) may have taken the pragmatic course of jumping in and endorsing the Mayor hoping to get some favorable treatment in this, Foster's last budget.
The Cops, on the other hand have seen the value in being on the right side in a Foster election with new equipment, acceptable overtime and glowing accolades from the Mayor's office, also quickly jumped in endorsing the Mayor.
So if you think about it from these unions' perspective, it probably is not as much about whether Foster wins or loses as it is about firming their position in the next fiscal years' budget.
Foster can keep feeding the Cops, throw the fire fighters a bone or two and the unions will probably muster at least a small boots on the ground effort to support the Mayor.
Would it be enough to offset the current polling trends?
Bigger question may be who will they endorse if Foster comes up number three in the primary?
Should YOU the voter pay any real attention to these endorsements?
Given that the Foster administration has gone what seems to be way out of their way to retaliate when an endorser is on the losing side, the answer is NO.
The Unions' purpose should be to represent their members and get the best results for those members they can. That's what the Foster endorsements are all about.
Foster may have managed to neuter the Unions' ability to seriously affect an election and that is unfortunate because the public safety union's unbiased view might have been of some real value as the electorate sorts out this election.
Now those union endorsements should be viewed for what they are - self serving.
So when you see all that campaign literature with all of those endorsements just remember you need to dig a little deeper, because those endorsements are just to benefit the endorser, not the candidate and definitely not you.
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